Healthcare Analytics, Population Health Management, Healthcare Big Data

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White House Details Precision Medicine Big Data Genomics Plan

By Jennifer Bresnick

- The White House has started to provide details about President Obama’s precision medicine initiative, which hopes to harness the power of big data and large-scale genomics to develop personalized treatments for a variety of diseases.  Announced during this year’s State of the Union address and clarified this week, the initiative will loop in several of the biggest bodies in healthcare technology research if the $215 million funding request is approved in next year’s budget.

“I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine – one that delivers the right treatment at the right time. In some patients with cystic fibrosis, this approach has reversed a disease once thought unstoppable,” President Obama said. “Tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes – and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.”

According to a White House fact sheet, the funding will be split between the National Institutes of Health, the Office of the National Coordinator, the National Cancer Institute, and the FDA, which will each devote their time to a different component of the project:

• The ONC will receive $5 million to continue its work developing secure data interoperability among the nation’s healthcare and research organizations

• The National Institutes of Health will be given $130 million, the largest piece of the pie, to establish a national databank of at least one million volunteers.  Researchers will sequence each member’s DNA to provide a massive source of data for ongoing analytics

• The FDA will work with $10 million to develop quicker and easier ways to examine a patient’s DNA in order to provide rapid targeting for treatments.  It will also examine current guidance and regulation that may need to be updated in order to facilitate these new goals

• The National Cancer Institute will receive $70 million to focus on the interplay of genetics and different cancers, basing novel treatments on an individual patient’s risks and reactions

“The potential for precision medicine to improve care and speed the development of new treatments has only just begun to be tapped,” the press release says. “Translating initial successes to a larger scale will require a coordinated and sustained national effort.  Through collaborative public and private efforts, the Precision Medicine Initiative will leverage advances in genomics, emerging methods for managing and analyzing large data sets while protecting privacy, and health information technology to accelerate biomedical discoveries.”

The initiative hopes to leverage public and private resources as organizations partner to speed research and bring new pharmaceuticals or procedures to market.  “The Administration will call on academic medical centers, researchers, foundations, privacy experts, medical ethicists, and medical product innovators to lay the foundation for this effort, including developing new approaches to patient participation and empowerment,” the fact sheet says.

“The Administration will carefully consider and develop an approach to precision medicine, including appropriate regulatory frameworks, that ensures consumers have access to their own health data – and to the applications and services that can safely and accurately analyze it – so that in addition to treating disease, we can empower individuals and families to invest in and manage their health.”

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